With the new year comes a new crop of totally amazing reads. Here are some I can’t wait to get my hands on:
1) Where the Words End and My Body Begins by Amber Dawn
(Arsenal Pulp Press)
Amber Dawn’s known for her award-winning memoir How Poetry Saved My Life and her novel Sub Rosa, which reads like a feminist pulp novel/fairytale about sex workers. Where the Words End and My Body Begins, Dawn’s first book of poems, pays homage to legendary and emerging queer poets including Gertrude Stein, Christina Rossetti, and Adrienne Rich with a series of poems written in the 15th-century Spanish glosa form.
2) Houses by Nikki Wallschlaeger
I love how Nikki Wallschlaeger’s poems travel from building to building, room to room, from the exterior to the interior, from the often female-embodied everyday to the vast and looming social world that surrounds us, filled with problems and possibilities: “I have children that need lunches in the morning so I love them best. I also love lipstick and Europe, and the things that dead men say.”
Wallschlaeger’s first full-length book Houses is coming this May. Until then read some of her knockout poems here and here and here.
3) Rad American Women, A-Z
Rebels, Trailblazers, and Visionaries Who Shaped Our History . . . and Our Future! by Kate Schatz, illustrated by Miriam Klein Stahl
(City Lights/Sister Spit)
Moms and dads everywhere, take note. Indoctrinating your wee ones into your feminist girl gang just got a little easier. This illustrated book teaches kids (and adults) the A, B, Cs of American feminist history with vivid illustrations by Miriam Klein Stahl. A is for Angela Davis, B is for Billie Jean King, C is for Carol Burnett, and so on & so on, be still my beating heart <3
4) God Help the Child by Toni Morrison
Toni Toni Toni has done it again. Her newest novel following 2012’s Home, and her sixth in the last two decades, God Help the Child is, as Slate puts it, “news that amounts to at least an 8 on the literary Richter scale.” Due out this April, Morrison’s new novel is about “the way childhood trauma shapes and misshapes the life of the adult.”
5) Tender Data by Monica Mcclure
Monica’s poems are part glam, part confessional, part tongue-in-cheek bitch-at-the-mall, part Internet meme, etc.—elegantly manicured peep shows into deep, dark caverns of femininity (see here.). She’s the author of the chapbooks Mood Swing, from Snacks Press and Mala, from Poor Claudia. Tender Data is her first full-length book.
6) The First Bad Man by Miranda July
(Simon & Schuster)
Artist, filmmaker, author and all-around dreamy feminist icon Miranda July is debuting her first novel, The First Bad Man, this year. It’s about a “tightly-wound” woman who works at a self-defense nonprofit, is “haunted by a baby boy she met when she was six,“ and believes she and her coworker have “been making love for many lifetimes, though they have yet to consummate in this one.” Omg, YES. Be sure to shop The First Bad Man Store for objects mentioned in the book, like four mustards and espadrilles.
7) How to Grow Up by Michelle Tea
Thanks to the advance copy I was lucky enough to get of How to Grow Up, I am officially grown (and you can look forward to an interview with Ms Tea on WEIRD SISTER, coming very soon!). This much-anticipated new memoir from RADAR Productions director, iconic Valencia author, MUTHA editor, and all-around renaissance womyn Michelle Tea is sure to set your new year on the right path. Make this book your manual on figuring out relationships, personal style, jobs, money, family, and more, on your own clock and in your own way.
8) Other People’s Comforts Keep Me Up at Night by Morgan Parker
We already know Morgan’s work is amazing from her brilliant writing on race, feminism, and pop culture for WEIRD SISTER, along with the important pieces she’s recently contributed to VIDA, Fanzine, and elsewhere. Morgan’s poems are as energetic, surprising and incisive as her critical writing—plus Other People’s Comforts was selected by our she-ro Eileen Myles, and is coming out on the ever-rad Switchback Books.
9) Weirde Sister by James Gendron
I’m obviously kinda biased about this one—since ”weird sister” is my current fave phrase. But read this and become as transfixed as I am: any poem that starts “Ann spoke in tongues, filling the room with wingdings” has pretty much got me hooked. And then there’s this:
“No one paid much attention to Ann before she was possessed
Now they were transfixed
Illustrating the sad fact that if you’re a girl and you want to be heard
Then Idk maybe have a demon flap your gap”
Girlhood, exorcism, feminism, check. I can’t wait for more weirde sisterdom. James Gendron’s first book Sexual Boat (Sex Boats) came out from Octopus in 2013, and Weirde Sister will be his second book.
10) Binary Star by Sarah Gerard
(Two Dollar Radio)
I heard Sarah Gerard read from her stunning debut novel Binary Star back in September, and have been looking forward to reading it ever since. The book centers on the young woman protagonist’s struggle with anorexia and other disordered eating in lyrical prose—the kind of prose that, when read out loud, sounds a lot like an unforgettable poem. A far cry from the extreme and fantastical representations of eating disorders often depicted in mainstream media (Lifetime movies, etc.), Gerand’s poetic account is humanizing and multi-dimensional. Read an excerpt here and watch the book’s gorgeous trailer here.
11) Confidence by Seth Landman
(Brooklyn Arts Press)
I met Seth at college orientation in the year 2000. He’s my first poetry friend, and he’s been one of my favorite poets ever since. Seth’s poems are like the best sad songs. They creep me out, they wake me up, they remind me how big and sad and great the world is. Like this: “I became lost and did not want a direction…./ I carried the quilt outside. An airplane blinked across the sky and I/ thought about all of the commandments.” Seth’s first full-length collection Sign You Were Mistaken came out in 2013 from Factory Hollow Press, and Confidence will be out this May.
12) Guns & Butter by Montana Ray
The first poetry collection from self-described “feminist writer, translator, and mother” Montana Ray, Guns & Butter is made up entirely of poems written in the shape of guns that touch on themes including single motherhood, the literary canon, and gun violence. Cathy Park Hong says “[Ray’s] voice is mesmerizing, tender, vicious, chimeric, as she veers between role-playing a warrior glock-wielding Annie Oakley to “warm, new mother.” Read a few of Ray’s gun poems here, and get super-stoked.
13) Slice by Arielle Greenberg
Arielle Greenberg is one of my all-time favorite poets and thinkers—her sweet, sad, fierce poems break my heart in half like it’s a candy heart with the words “Call Me” or “Kiss Me” or “My Girl” on it. Originator of the term Gurlesque, and co-editor of the anthology by the same name, Arielle’s varied and always-fascinating and feminist work touches on themes from home birth to fashion to mentorship to kink. Slice is her third full-length poetry book.
14) Thick-Skinned Sugar by LaToya Jordan
(Finishing Line Press)
With titles like “Lullaby for a Dead Hooker,” “America is 15 Times the Size of Afghanistan,” and “Gardening with Michelle Obama,” the poems in LaToya Jordan’s first chapbook touch on themes including girlhood, motherhood, and gendered violence in haunting, dreamy language. Like this, from “Missing Girl Stew”:
“a girl who carries her head like a purse,
and the woman whose baby trails behind her,
still connected by the umbilical cord.”
15) In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume
(Alfred A. Knopf)
Forthcoming this June (just in time for my birthday, thanks Judy), Judy Blume’s first adult book since her 1998 Summer Sisters, In the Unlikely Event, draws from Blume’s own memories of plane crashes in her hometown of Elizabeth, New Jersey during three months in 1952-53, using them as a backdrop for exploring classically Blumeian issues like grief, first love, difficult friendship, and divorce. As far as I’m concerned, every day is Blumesday. And a new Judy Blume book is pretty much the finest gift that the universe can bestow upon us.
What other books are you excited for this year? Let us know in the comments <3